A young Nigerian man, Kennedy Ife was killed by his family after they tied him up and performed an “exorcism” on him, a court has heard.
Mistakenly believing him to be “possessed by evil spirits”, Kennedy Ife’s parents and brothers set about “curing” him with prayer and restraint, jurors were told.
They allegedly used cable ties, rope and handcuffs to restrain the “vulnerable” 26-year-old at home in Enfield, north London, in the days before his death in August 2016.
Kennedy’s parents, Kenneth and Josephine, and five brothers Roy, Harry, Colin, Samuel and Daniel are on trial at the Old Bailey accused of his manslaughter.
Prosecutor Tom Little QC said: “This is a case in which a young man in his 20s lost his life. The reason is that his own family decided that because he had become and remained unwell he should be restrained with cable ties, rope and handcuffs.
“They decided that he should be restrained in his own home with them rather than calling 999. Ultimately that restraint was a cause of his tragic death.
“The 999 call that was eventually made for expert assistance was too late.
“The family put misguided religious beliefs about this young man being possessed by a demon or evil spirits before the obvious and common sense conclusion that he needed help and did not need to be restrained.”
Little said the Ife family held deep and unusual religious beliefs, described by one of the defendants as “charismatic Christians”.
When Kennedy showed signs of illness in August 2016, they allegedly believed he had become possessed by evil spirits and decided to restrain him, jurors heard.
Little told the court: “Instead of calling 999 or seeking other expert assistance they sought to ‘cure’ his perceived illness through prayer and restraint.
“Whether this was some form of exorcism will be a matter for you in due course.
“In short, the Ife family took the law into their own hands.”
The court heard how Kennedy’s brother Harry called 999 on 22 August saying he had been complaining of dehydration.
Paramedics who arrived at the house were told Kennedy had been behaving abnormally over three days.
Daniel and Roy Ife at the Old Bailey, where they are accused of manslaughter (Image: central news)
On 22 August, he was said to have become very agitated and developed breathing difficulties.
Despite efforts to resuscitate him, Kennedy was pronounced dead at 10.17am.
His mother Josephine Ife told police her son had been “fighting amongst himself” and had to be restrained.
His brother Colin Ife added that Kennedy had become aggressive and spoke of the “mark of the beast 666 – god to forgive him”.
While police were at the house Colin Ife allegedly carried out an “attempted resurrection” by chanting and praying for Kennedy.
He called for Kennedy to “arise in the light of God”, jurors were told.
In a search of the family home, police found a note on Josephine Ife’s bed about the “bewitching” of offspring.
It stated: “Anyone who has bewitched your son or daughter, if you feel your son is under a spell pick up earth and throw it to north, south, east, west for four days.
“After there will be an encounter.”
Officers also retrieved an Adidas bag containing black handcuffs, cable ties and wrist bands which appeared to have been thrown into a neighbouring garden in Lancaster Avenue.
The prosecution said it amounted to an “Ife family false imprisonment kit”.
In the days before his death, members of the Ife family had turned to religious figures for help, the court heard.
Uzoamaka Ndekwu, a minister at the Jesus Sanctuary Ministries, near the Old Kent Road in south east London, was called by Josephine and Colin Ife.
On 20 August, Josephine Ife told the minister that her son had refused to see a GP and three ministers were asked to go to the family home to pray for him.
The court heard a post-mortem examination revealed more than 60 injuries on Kennedy’s body, including a possible bite.
A pathologist concluded a number of them were consistent with “forceful restraint”.
His father Kenneth, who is based in Nigeria, was found to have a bite injury to the shoulder while four of the brothers also had minor injuries.
Josephine Ife, 56, and Kenneth Ife 64, deny manslaughter, false imprisonment and causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult between 19 – 23 August 2016 along with their sons Colin, 26, twins Daniel and Samuel, 20, Harry, 32, and Roy, 33.